A White Michigan police officer received a $65,000 settlement from the city of Hastings after he was taunted by other cops when he told them he was part Black, his attorney told CNN.
Sgt. Cleon Brown, who has spent 19 years with the Hastings Police Department, said that in 2016 the mocking began after he took an Ancestry.com genetic test, which revealed he was 18 percent African.
His fellow police officers called him “Kunta,” referencing Kunta Kinte from the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, and would whisper “Black Lives Matter” when they walked past him, CNN reports.
“It was almost like a disgraced type of reaction that I got from them like, ‘Why are you proud of this type of thing?’,” Brown told WDIV.
According to a lawsuit filed by Brown, someone left a Black Santa head in his Christmas stocking with “18%” written on its beard.
Brown said that the incidents were “straight up racism,” per WDIV. The city is rejecting Brown’s claims of harassment.
“During this most recent holiday season, a good friend of Brown found a tan color ceramic Santa head sitting in his own stocking with “18%” written on it. Not knowing where it came from and knowing his friendship with Brown, the officer placed it in Brown’s stocking,” the city said in a statement to CNN. “The officer who placed the Santa in Brown’s stocking then went to Brown to apologize for doing so, since he heard that Brown was upset about the incident.”
The settlement agreement stipulates that Brown will receive a salary and benefits through Oct. 31, but that he can no longer look for work with the city. Karie Boylan, Brown’s attorney, told CNN that the officer is not pleased with the agreement.
“They didn’t want this to be a big case. He was hoping that by filing the complaint the harassment would be over, but it wasn’t,” Boylan said.
Brown is reportedly planning to sell his home and seek employment outside of Hastings.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.